Posts Tagged ‘Feast of Dedication’

Hanukkah Word: Anti-semitism

“I will bless those who bless you, but I will curse anyone who curses you; and by you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).

Many years ago I was listening to a Messianic Jew and non-Jew discuss the Biblical roots of the Christian faith on a talk radio show. A woman called in and said, “If I had know Jesus was Jewish, I would not have become a Christian.” Anti-semitism.

When our family began celebrating the Feasts of the LORD in Leviticus 23 along with Purim and Hanukkah, we were asked if we were becoming ‘Jewish’. What is wrong with becoming ‘Jewish’ when all of our Scriptures were written by Jews (aka physical descendants of Abraham, Issac and Jacob) and our Savior is Jewish? Anti-semitism.

In the past few years I hear many say that we shouldn’t listen to the rabbis, the sages, the Jews, because they added to the Torah, the created the Talmud, they don’t know Messiah. I often wonder if these same people realize where these Jewish men came up with all of their rules and regulations. It was their heart to obey God even in the smallest ‘jot and tittle’ and so they spent hours and days, months and years, studying the commandments of the LORD and outlining the best ways they could understand for obedience. Their intention was not to add burdens upon the people even though that is what many of their ideas became when others made them equal to commandments. They were just men trying to obey the God of Israel to the best intent of their heart and mind. We can learn a lot from those who went before us and we should. Rather than calling everything that has bound the Jewish people together for millennia ‘manmade traditions’, we should seek to understand their reasonings. With the Spirit of God in our lives, we should be able to discern which traditions nullify God’s Word and which traditions do not (Mark 7). When we as non-Jewish believers put as many years into study and obedience to the best intent of our new hearts and minds, perhaps then we can make judgmental assumptions. Otherwise it’s anti-semitism.

Anti-semitism is a lurking disease in the darkness of this world, but when it appears in the hearts of those who carry the Light of Messiah Yeshua, it needs to be dealt with however subtle it may appear to be. It is anti-semitism to believe that the myriads of Christian denominations, Hebrew Roots groups, Torah Observant groups and the plethora of other religious delineations have more understanding than the Jewish people from whom God chose to bring salvation. The Word says they have a veil over their eyes. It needs to be removed, not judged. It is anti-semitism to read a Hebrew Bible, written by Jewish people over many centuries, and not love those same people who gave their lives to protect it so they could be the light to the nations they were called to be. Anti-semitism in the heart of Antiochus Ephiphanes led to the near destruction of the Jewish people, their Torah and their Temple. But our great God, Yahweh Elohim, by empowering a mighty deliverer, Judah Maccabee, along with a small army of courageous, spiritual men, gave His people victory over anti-semitism and restored them to their Land, their Biblical ways and even their traditions.

Let’s remember that God says curses and blessings come from how we treat the ancestors as well as the brothers and sisters of Yeshua. They were human like each of us desiring to obey the commandments of God through the grace and mercy of salvation.

“Indeed, if someone gives just a cup of cold water to one of these little [Jewish] ones because he is my disciple — yes! — I tell you, he will certainly not lose his reward!” (Matthew 10:42).

Hanukkah vs. Christmas, the Alternative?

For many Biblical reasons, our family stopped celebrating Christmas many years ago.  Our relatives didn’t understand our reasons, but accepted the decision as best they could.  One side still sent Christmas presents that we reminded our children to accept with gratefulness because ‘every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).   The other side began wrapping Christmas gifts in Hanukkah paper.  Though that was their way of respecting our decision, Hanukkah is not a Jewish substitute, replacement or alternative to Christmas.  Hanukkah and Christmas have two very different historic backgrounds and have nothing in common with one another.

The roots and traditions of Christmas can be found in the Roman celebration of Saturnalia on which the Catholic church sprinkled holy water,  incorporated the birth of a non-Jewish Jesus, and created the Christ Mass (which ironically means ‘death sacrifice’).   Those who embrace Christmas believing it as Jesus’ birthday  are doing nothing more than acknowledging catholicism as the roots of their faith (even if they are protestants who reject everything catholic).   In fact, all of Christiandom and secular society for this one day of the year become catholic in their celebration and promote the idolatrous Saturnalia with a holiday of stars, greenery, and gift giving.  

The events surrounding Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication (John 10:22), are found in the Apocrypha and are rooted in Jewish history during the time of Alexander the Great when he wanted to Hellenize the world.  It was during this time that the Emperor Hadrian changed the name of Judea to the Greek/Latin Palestine in order to expedite the destruction of the nation and people of Israel.  Alexander’s cohort Antiochus Epiphanes (means ‘antichrist manifest’) went about ‘Palestine’  forcing the Jewish people to renounce their faith in the God of Israel or die.  He sought to destroy the people and the lineage through whom the Messiah would come. They were not allowed to circumcise their children, celebrate Passover or any of God’s other holy days or offer sacrifices in the Temple.  As Antiochus’ armies entered Jerusalem, they desecrated the Most Holy Place in the Temple with pig’s blood.  This is the same Temple that today Muslim world leaders claim never existed; the same place where an Islamic mosque stands.   

Our family is not nor ever was catholic thus we do not take part in the Christ Mass.   Our children were raised to understand the historical roots of Christmas and have never felt as if were missing something.   Instead, they were taught about Hanukkah and the anti-semitism of the Greek/Roman world, the same anti-semitism that still exists today in much of the church due to its catholic heritage along with the growing ideology of hatred for Israel in the much-tolerated religion of Islam. 

As they are all grown and have their own lives, each still remembers the Maccabees and their fight to free the Jews from being Hellenized with paganism.   They light their menorahs for eight days to remember the re-dedication of the Temple Altar back to Yahweh.  Each night with the candle light they look forward to the day when the Messiah Yeshua returns, sets His feet on the Mount of Olives, enters the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem and the Temple area.  On that day he will cleanse a newly-built  Temple from the coming ‘abomination of desolation’ (Matthew 24:15-26, 2 Thessalonians 2:4). He will restore Jerusalem and the nation of Israel to the eternal glory that is promised in the Holy Scriptures.  

Hanukkah is not a Jewish alternative to Christmas.  Changing the wrapping paper on a present or saying “Happy Hanukkah” rather than “Merry Christmas” changes nothing about the deeply rooted differences.  One is a celebration with unBiblical roots and decorated to entice the world into idolatry; the other is a memorial to those who fought against anti-semitism in order to protect the Temple in Jerusalem and to stand against the destruction of  their faith in the God of Israel.   Unlike the Roman catholic-based Christmas, Hanukkah is a reminder from a century before the birth of Messiah that nothing and no one, especially a modern ‘antiochus’ can destroy the Lion of the Tribe of Judah through whom the redemption of the world will come.

“You people don’t know what you are worshipping; we worship what we do know, because salvation comes from the Jews” (John 4:22).

©2015 Tent Stake Ministries

Modern Maccabean Revolt

“What has been will be again; what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

In the days of Judah Maccabee, there was an attack on the Jewish people by the Greeks.   Not just on the Jewish people themselves, but on everything the God of Israel had given them and promised them in the Scriptures.  Everything … Jewish.

Historically, every king, emperor or leader who has done these things has been considered an enemy to Israel and the Jewish people.   The Pharaoh of Egypt, Haman in Persia, Caligula and Nero of Rome, Miguel de Morillo and Juan de San Martin of the Spanish Inquisitions,  and all the way to Hitler of the modern era set themselves up as gods and tried to snuff out the lives of God’s chosen people.  Yet, there is still one more man of lawlessness to come, the one prophesied about in Daniel, spoken of by Yeshua, and explained by Paul. 

“The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. … And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him” (Daniel 9:26-27).

“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—  then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matthew 24:15-16).

“Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

Today, the same deceptive battle rages.  It could be called the modern Maccabean revolt because it is a rebellion against modern-day Greek and Roman ideologies that have created a religious system contrary to Biblical truth and its  spiritual and historical foundations.  This system teaches the Torah is nullified, the Temple is unnecessary, the Levitical priesthood is obsolete, the dietary laws are cancelled, circumcision is legalism, the Sabbath is changed, and the Jewish people are rejected by God.   Everything … Jewish.

These un-Biblical doctrines transform the God of the Holy Scriptures into an institutionally designed god.   Jesus is misrepresented as a Greek-based Roman triune godhead rather than the King of the Jews, the Messiah of Israel. Many who could come to know Yeshua are driven away from a deeper walk of faith with God through these false and misguided teachings.  Those who represent these teachings are not giving the world the good news of salvation; they are twisting the truth and giving the father of lies a platform on which to present his message of lawlessness and men transform themselves into the image of their own imaginings of ‘god’.  This is nothing more than the work of the Adversary, the antichrist or man of lawlessness prophesied by Daniel, Yeshua, and Paul.

There is nothing new under the heavens.  There will always be lawless men who want to destroy the Jewish people along with their God-given Biblical heritage.  There will also be men and women, Jews and gentiles,  like Judah Maccabee and his father, who fight against such destruction and assimilation.  These will place a Hanukkah menorah in their window to show the Jewish people they stand with them and the God of Israel.  They will light the eight festive candles each night to proclaim to the world that they, along with the brothers and sisters of the Jewish Messiah, will never assimilate into a Hellenized Roman religious system that advances the coming man of lawlessness. 

The ancient Greeks didn’t win against the small Maccabean army; Antiochus Epiphanes didn’t destroy the Jews or the Torah they guarded for centuries. The modern-day Greeks won’t win against a royal priesthood that has begun to stand against the lies and deceptions established over the centuries by the church and church fathers.    The modern-day Romans in Vatican City can’t stop the Torah from coming from Zion and the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem.  The battle is the LORD’s and when the Messiah of Israel returns, all things will be restored and re-dedicated hanukkah to the LORD: the Torah’s teachings and instructions, the eternal Levitical priesthood, the seventh-day Sabbath as the covenant sign between God and His people, circumcision for entrance into the Sanctuary, and the Temple as envisioned by Ezekiel with a dedicated altar of sacrifice.  Everything … Jewish. 

©2013 Tentstake Ministries, chapter from Journey with Jeremiah on amazon.com

Miriam’s Hanukkah Miracle

Did you know from studying the Scriptures, we can figure out that Yeshua/Jesus was born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall?    This means that he would have been conceived 40 weeks earlier which just ‘happens’ to be the days of Hanukkah or the Feast of Dedication.  I am always reminded at this time of year how Miriam (Mary) experienced the Miracle of all Miracles.   Through the Spirit of God, she conceived a child, the promised Seed of the woman, the Light of the World, the One who would begin to restore all things.  Such a miraculous conception was the desire of every woman from the beginning of time and the promise to Eve, but Miriam was the one chosen to give birth to the Messiah!

mary-is-visited-by-the-angel-gabriel2

It was during the days of Hanukkah that the miracle of God becoming flesh began.  It was during the days of Hanukkah that Miriam dedicated herself, her body, her life to becoming the mother of the Savior of the world.  It was during the days of Hanukkah that she left home and visited her cousin causing Elizabeth’s baby to leap in her womb.  And, it was while all these things were happening in a small village called Nazareth that many people of  Israel were in Jerusalem remembering the rededication of the Altar of Sacrifice in the Temple, the miracle of the oil in the Menorah, and hoped for the One who would be the Light of the World and become their substitutionary sacrifice that would bring them complete and final redemption.

“How blessed are you among women! And how blessed is the child in your womb!” (Luke 1:45).

Apart from the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem from its defilement by the Greeks,  apart from the end times prophecy in Daniel about the coming ‘anointed One’ to rededicate a restored Temple in Jerusalem, a sometimes overlooked ‘reason for the season’ is found in Miriam’s response to Elizabeth’s words: 

“My soul magnifies Yahweh; and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior, who has taken notice of his servant-girl  in her humble position.  For — imagine it! — from now on, all generations will call me blessed!  The Mighty One has done great things for me! Indeed, his name is holy;  and in every generation he has mercy on those who fear him.   He has performed mighty deeds with his arm, routed the secretly proud, brought down rulers from their thrones, raised up the humble, filled the hungry with good things, but sent the rich away empty.  He has taken the part of his servant Israel, mindful of the mercy which he promised to our fathers, to Avraham and his seed forever” (Luke 1:46-55). 

Many years after Miriam conceived a child by the Spirit, during the days of Hanukkah, Yeshua went to the Temple in Jerusalem where everyone was remembering God’s miracles.  Strange as it may seem, he was also marking the time of his miraculous conception in his mother’s womb, the moment when he humbled himself, gave up his glory, and began life a human being – a human being who would be born to into a Jewish lineage from Judah through King David.

“Though he [Yeshua] was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God something to be possessed by force. On the contrary, he emptied himself, in that he took the form of a slave by becoming like human beings are. And when he appeared as a human being, he humbled himself still more by becoming obedient even to death — death on a cross as a criminal!  Therefore God raised him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name; that in honor of the name given Yeshua, every knee will bow — in heaven, on earth and under the earth —  and every tongue will acknowledge  that Yeshua the Messiah is LORD — to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).

He would grow up as a Jewish child,  live in Israel as a Jewish man, die on Passover as a Jewish man, resurrect on Firstfruits as a Jewish man and will return with the blowing of shofars as the promised Jewish heir of his Father’s eternal Kingdom.  In the midst of this memorial celebration to the rededication to the Altar, Yeshua proclaimed himself as the Messiah.  The Miracle of Miracles, the Light of the World, the Menorah in the flesh stood among his own brothers and sisters and announced, “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30). 

When celebrating the days of Dedication, look beyond the miraculous account of the Maccabees victory, the miracle of oil in the Menorah, and the rededication of the Altar.   Meditate on Miriam’s personal Hanukkah miracle.  The re-dedication of her temple that would birth the Savior of the world.  Without her humility and willingness to treasure everything in her heart, there would be no substitutionary sacrifice for our sin, no forgiveness of our sin, no redemption for the nation of  Israel, and no hope of a Kingdom where Israel’s Messiah, King Yeshua will reign on its throne forever. 

©2014 Tent Stake Ministries